(TibetanReview.net, Dec21’19) – Apart from party members, who are expected to profess atheism, China has banned students, school officials, and government employees from taking part in religious festivities marking the 600th death anniversary of Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug School, Tibet’s dominant Buddhist religious tradition. The anniversary, known as Gaden Ngamchoe, fell this year on Dec 20 and 21.
The anniversary is marked with great religious fervour and especially involves making large-scale butter-lamp offerings and reciting prayers in Tsongkhapa’s name.
The anniversary in being marked in exile, especially in India, as a year-long event with the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, giving the keynote address at an international conference on ‘Jé Tsongkhapa, Life and Legacy’ at Gaden Monastery of Mundgod Tibetan settlement, Karnataka state, on Dec 20. The monastery’s original, located near Tibet’s capital Lhasa, was established by Tsongkhapa in 1409 AD.
A notice issued by authorities in Tibet’s capital Lhasa made parents responsible for students’ compliance with the party-government’s order, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Dec 20. This year’s restrictions are seen as reflecting official concerns over the events held in India during the week.
China has been banning the above categories of people from visiting temples and engaging in religious practices especially during religious festivals for years and these have been enforced with increasing strictness in recent times, with government employees being set to lose their jobs and retirees forfeiting their welfare and entitlements.